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Hard Places: Greece

Our desire is to be a catalyst for restoration by empowering people to raise themselves out of darkness brought on by extreme situations.

Photo of KIM Parrish
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What problem does the idea help to solve and how does your solution work? (2,000 characters maximum)

Specific People on the Move Impacted: The country of Greece in 2016 had an estimated 10,920,00 in population according to United Nations population data (Eurostat, 2016). In 2016 alone 63, 920 refugee children arrived in Greece. The majority of the refugees in Greece are from Syria, Afghanistan, Iraq, and Iran (UNHCR, 2017). According to the International Rescue Committee (IRC), the registered refugee population is approximately 62,000, with over half being women and children. During 2013 and 2014, 1.3 million people fleeing conflict and persecution traveled through Greece in search of safety and a better life (International Rescue Committee, 2015). In 2019, reported in August by the Agean Boat Report, 22,344 people are stranded on five main islands: Chios, Samos, Kos, Leros, and Lesvos. The population, including unaccompanied minors, men, women, and children from Syria, Iraq, Iran, Afghanistan, Sudan, Somalia, and Pakistan. Root Causes Influencing the Problem: Beginning 2012 and 2013 and continuing through 2019 people fleeing violence and oppression in the Middle East, Africa, South and Central Asia view Greece as an entry point to Europe and an opportunity for a new life. Greece has become a holding pen for people seeking asylum. Currently, the 50,000 plus refugees in the mainland, and not including the islands, can no longer legally travel deeper into Europe. Most will likely remain in Greece. Integration is a critical contributing factor in creating successful lives in what is now their new home. Integration and assimilation in any country facing the volume and a vast number of nationalities would ba challenging task in any country, however, exacerbated in Greece because of its ongoing financial difficulties. A Solution to the Problem and How It Works Hard Places Greece sees restoration in bringing elements of healing through mental health/PTSD, education, and family support. We want to create activities reaching one person, one family at a time.

Geography of focus (500 characters)

Geography - The idea targets communities in Athens, Greece where we have volunteering bring art, music, and education to the children in a variety of parks and neighborhoods, including Victoria Square and the surrounding areas. We want to expand. We desire to facilitate mental health and post-traumatic stress recovery on the five main receiving islands for refugees fleeing traumatic situations. We desire safe/restorative places such as a community center in Athens and on the mentioned island.

Building Bridges: What bridge does your idea build between people on the move and neighbors towards a shared future of stability and promise? (500 characters)

The conditions before flight from the country of origin include turbulent conditions. Research has indicated that the flight of the refugee is not limited to the pre-flight phase but extends to their transitional period as well as seeking asylum and assimilation in a new country (Silove, 2000). Hard Places: Greece desires to bridge the gap between a country such as Greece suffering economic hardships and its refugee population by offering support to individuals and families in need of recovery.

What human need is your idea solving for? (1,000 characters)

Individuals who feel the security of belonging to a group or a network are more likely to demonstrate a more positive functioning of self-efficacy and life satisfaction (Allen & Bowles, 2012). Research indicates that life in groups and a sense of community stability have a positive impact on well-being and are related to cognitive performance, physical health, and mental health (Allen & Bowles, 2012). In the past ten years, the media has increased our awareness of people who feel the urgency to flee the country, community, and land in which they hold citizenship for protection because of persecution, war, or political and civil turmoil in their home country. In volunteering over the past two years in Greece in the refugee crisis, we see organizations meeting basic needs. We desire to bring a holistic approach to the well-being and stability of the populations surrendering their home country to survive. We desire to see well-being restored through a network of hope.

What will be different within the community of focus as a result of implementing your idea? (1,000 characters)

Although the circumstances in the country of origin may not be solved, the betterment of men, women, and children fleeing dangerous situations and risking life and limb to begin a better life deserves attention. A common expression from refugees is the desire to continue sharing and growing their innermost dreams and goals, to move beyond a day-to-day survival for their family and their children. We want to become a place where through appropriate post-traumatic therapy and qualified and competent staff, the layers of trauma can be overcome by working towards the innermost realistic hopes and dreams of the individual. We see this expression of hope and healing taking place through art therapy, education, and family support. We want to see children and adults who become educated and encouraged in the assimilation process of their new country. We want to see healing through all of the Arts, including music, drama, and artistic expression, while empowering parents to thrive.

What is the inspiration behind your idea? (1,000 characters)

The inspiration behind this idea is one person at a time -- one family at a time. We see restoration in creating space to create relationships in an environment focused on restoring the dreams and visions of those who have purged through traumatic situations. The inspiration comes from volunteering in the community for the past two years in seeing some physical needs being met and longing to meet a lack of growth in normalcy or a return to a life outside of survival mode only.

Describe the dynamics of the community in which the idea is to be implemented. (1,000 characters)

The community that HPC will serve will be within the diverse refugee communities throughout Greece, Athens in particular. HPC encountered numerous amounts of refugees from the Middle East in pilot programs over the past summer, many of which flee from their home to obtain a better life for themselves and their children. As Greece is one of the few countries with open borders in the EU, it is a passageway for refugees across the Mediterranean Sea. There have been different organizations to help refugees with basic needs such as water, food, clothing, etc. However, HPC seeks to serve people far beyond physical needs, instead focused serving of their psychological needs as well. People have had far more than just their homes stripped from them. These refugees have had to endure more hardship than some people will ever experience in their lives, along with the physical relocation of their lives and the emotional trauma that correlates with it.

How does your idea leverage and empower community strengths and assets to help create an environment for success? (1,000 characters)

In working and talking with the community in Greece, you discover that the general atmosphere is one of understanding of traumatic situations causing flight in the homeland. However, because Greece is in an economic struggle itself, few jobs are available for refugees. The Greek national population is susceptible to the needs of a refugee fleeing conflict, but the economic reality of Greece is limited in resources to help assimilate the population into society and community within Greece. This is where we feel we could be bridge-builders, by bringing financial resources and trained facilitator resources to the environment to aid in the assimilation process through holistic well-being and educational resources. We desire to work with the local schools and establishments to continue to build a bridge that creates a healthier society as Greece continues to accept refugees from a multitude of countries.

What other partners or stakeholders will work alongside you in implementing the idea, if any? (1,000 characters)

We have formulated partnerships with local business owners, Salvation Army, Oasis Training Center, A Drop in the Ocean, A-21, Hellenic Ministries, Connect Cafe, Lighthouse, and a few local Greek families. In the future, we hope to collaborate with many more Greek NGO organizations and businesses wanting to increase stability in their community. We also desire collaboration with Greek and American influences in the area to include Greek Ministries and US embassy representatives.

What part of the displacement journey is your solution addressing

  • Arriving and settling at a destination community

Tell us how you'd describe the type of innovation you are proposing

  • Systems design: Solutions that target changing larger system

Idea Proposal Stage

  • Pilot: We have started to implement the idea as a whole with a first set of real users. The feasibility of an innovation is tested in a small-scale and real world application (i.e. 3-15% of the target population)

Group or Organization Name

The Hard Places Community

Tell us more about your group or organization [or lived experience as a displaced person?] (1000 characters)

The Hard Places Community is an international group of like-minded people whose mission is to see justice prevail, pain redeemed, hope reborn, and life restored in the hearts of those the world deems to be the most broken. The vision of The Hard Places Community is to bring hope to the hopeless in the darkest corners of the world. Currently, The Hard Places Community exists in India with a family house for homeless children and in Cambodia in the fight for justice among those who are vulnerable to human/sexual trafficking. The Hard Places Community desires and is driven to be the catalyst for men and women returning from overseas outreaches with a new hunger on their faces and one question on their lips, "What next?!" Upon returning from a research project for a local university in 2017, a group of people collaborated with The Hard Places Community to envision the creation of The Hard Places: Greece. Since 2017, we have continued collaboration, research, and pilot programs in Greece.

Website URL:

Type of submitter

  • We are not yet a registered organization but plan to in future

Organization Headquarters: Country

United States

Organization Headquarters: City / State


Attachments (1)

* Defense Kim Parrish - final.pptx

research PPTX from study of refugee crisis in Greece (conducted 2017) ; author Dr. Kim Parrish

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Hi, welcome to the Challenge. We wish you success in your good work!